(TOLEDO, Ohio - July 3, 2012) - The state of Iowa's history in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards is longer than most realize.
Though Iowa Speedway - site of next Friday's Prairie Meadows 200 - has hosted the developmental stock car tour every year since it opened, the facility is young. Next week's race will be just the seventh for ARCA on the 0.875-mile track that combines the best features of speedway and short track racing.
Des Moines gave Iowa an ARCA race for the first time 18 years ago today - July 3, 1994. Scott Lagasse won the Greater Des Moines Grand Prix, a street course event. The race was just the ninth road-style race in ARCA's history and only the fourth since 1965.
Nine-time champion and active driver Frank Kimmel finished second, just ahead of Jimmy Spencer and that season's titlist, Bobby Bowsher. Former National Football League head coach Jerry Glanville finished ninth, ahead of notables Michael Waltrip in 14th, James Hylton in 15th, and ARCA champions Bob Keselowski and Bill Venturini farther down the list.
However, the Iowa story predates even that star-studded day.
Today a city of just over 10,000 people in the state's southeastern region, Keokuk is the hometown for two ARCA champions and other notable drivers. 78-year-old Ramo Stott (above, far right), ARCA's titlist in 1970 and 1971, is perhaps the most recognized of those names. He won 27 ARCA races in his career, a total which exceeds all but six drivers in the sanctioning body's history.
Even last season, Stott was present around ARCA's annual race in Newton. He appeared at a special community event downtown while ARCA's haulers lined up on the streets, providing a direct link from the current era to historic days gone by.
Ron Hutcherson (right middle), 69 and another Keokuk driver, won the next three championships - two on his own and one shared with Dave Dayton. His 12 wins are just ahead of 11 from Ernie Derr and Don White, two more from Keokuk who made their names in the ARCA Racing Series as part of ARCA's rich six-decade history.
Even Newton's own Larry Clement is an ARCA champion; he owned Kimmel's car for each of his nine championships between 1998 and 2007.
Though Iowa Speedway's arrival on the motorsports landscape is new in relation to ARCA's long history, several of the series' best have made headlines on the oval. In two of the six races at Iowa, the winner has gone on to win the series title, a feat achieved by Kimmel in June 2007 and Ty Dillon last season.
Steve Wallace won the first ARCA race at Iowa from the pole on October 15, 2006. The late Matt Hawkins (right bottom) scored his only ARCA victory at Iowa two seasons later, in April, the earliest an ARCA event in Newton has been contested.
Though Parker Kligerman finished second to Justin Lofton in the final 2009 series standings, he did lead the series in wins with nine. One of those came at Iowa in July, beginning the current stretch of summer ARCA events at the track.
Tom Hessert won the next season, just edging the pole winner Dillon, who made his ARCA debut. 12 months later, it would be Dillon driving to Victory Lane after leading an impressive 193 of 200 laps, again from the pole.
The Prairie Meadows 200 will air live on SPEED at 9 p.m. Eastern on Friday, July 13, with live timing and scoring available at ARCARacing.com. All practice activity and Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell will take place that day, and ARCARacing.com will feature live timing and scoring coverage of those sessions as well. The race will be the 11th on the 20-race schedule for 2012.
2012 is the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards' 60th Anniversary Season, featuring 20 races at 18 tracks. After over 100 race events each season and hundreds of thousands of miles of racing in the ARCA Racing Series, the ARCA Truck Series, local weekly events at Toledo Speedway and Flat Rock Speedway, and now the ARCA CRA Super Series, ARCA's 60th Anniversary Season honors and pays tribute to the competitors, supporters, race tracks, and everyone responsible for turning ARCA into a success. The complete 2012 event schedule is available at ARCARacing.com.